Lomography Film Roll: One

March 31, 2010

My lovely girlfriend introduced me to the joys of Lomography a couple of months ago. Since then, it has reignited my love of Photography and gave me a reason to start it up again.

I bought a Diana Mini and a couple of redscale iso100 films, and got snapping.

These are my favourite photos from my first roll of film. The second roll of film, which I had developed today, will be uploaded tomorrow.

The Abstraction

March 31, 2010

Around the year of Muhammad’s birth, the Arabians within the central penninsula were actively resisting the Byzantines and the Persians, and in fact organised religion and empire in general. They did not however, escape the pull and the “meaning” that comes with abstract concepts invented by humanity, plaguing the West at the time. The Arabians instead practiced the concept of “Muruwwah”. This idea stressed the importance of courage and patience, endurance and honour. It kept the tribes going. It was a concept that penetrated every aspect of their lives. They were taught that society would fall apart without it. And yet, when logic prevails, Muruwwah doesn’t actually exist. It’s a subjective man made concept.

Man has always confined itself to abstractions. The problem with abstractions, and in particular abstract philosophies and concepts, is that whilst they attempt to provide dogmatic objectivity, they are by nature, massively subjective.

Humans have always placed an unattainable goal ahead of us, a goal that throughout our lives sucks up our hopes, our desires, our dreams, our human decency, like a sponge. The concept of Heaven, which is largely derived from the concept of an eternal World of Plato and other Greeks, tells us that this life is going to be a bit of a disappointment, but your dreams are going to come true in Heaven. Heaven acts as a sponge for positivity whilst the World we live in is a reflection of negativity. There is no Capitalism in heaven. There is no poverty in heaven. There is no climate change in heaven. And yet, the majority of us do not care to see our fantasy of a Heavenly World reflected on Earth. Why is that? Heaven is a man made fantasy ideal, and yet we place it in a box labelled “other“.

The Nation State is a product of colonialism. The Europeans carved up Africa into Nation States as a way of control. We could control the labour force, we could control slavery, we could control information, we could control the movement of capital. Nation borders are meaningless. They always have been. They are meaningless, because they exist in the collective mind of humanity only. The Nation State did not exist before humanity, it did not exist for the majority of the time humanity has been on the planet, it will not exist after humanity, and it does not exist to anything else other than humanity. And so therefore, it is meaningless, because it doesn’t exist. Like organised religion, the Nation State was used as a method of control by humanity over humanity.

As Capitalism took hold, Nation States no longer had the control over labour, slavery and capital that they once had. Nation States are entirely at odds with Capitalism. In fact, Nation States only really work when an economy is entirely protectionist, and Empires exist. Nation States were never about race, or identity, or culture, or anything of the sort. They have always been about control. Control previously lay at the feet of the Monarch. The State, was the Monarchy. Man and State were the same thing.
Israeli historian Martin Van Creveld says:

“What made the state unique was that it replaced the ruler with an abstract, anonymous, mechanism.”

Nationalism by logic then, is less than 500 years old. Racism grew with colonialism, and whilst the cancer of racism has largely been destroyed, remnants still remain and people are still quite unapologetically racist, with no actual reasons for their racism. Nationalism is an “other”. It is something we think is larger than ourselves, it is largely pathological because before human beings, and after human beings, England will not exist. A land mass that we once inhabited will exist. But England, and it’s abstractions that work simply to disassociate ourselves with the rest of humanity in the same way as Christianity and Islam and America and Pakistan and sexuality does.

Corporations today have more rules, more regulations, more limits on information, labour and capital than any Nation has. Corporations and their laws are just as abstract and nonsensical as Nation States. Corporations are the modern day Nation States. You all look a certain way, talk a certain way, waste your life trying to obtain this subjective and abstract concept of “success”. We are now governed by Capitalism or a form thereof. It tells us if we work hard enough, we can achieve anything we wish. But that simply isn’t true. Capitalism is the dome that we are living under, and it’s promise of ‘everything’ is in the same box as Heaven…. “other”. It is religion.

Catholicism, Protestantism, Capitalism, Democracy, Fascism, Communism, Materialism; they are do not exist. They are ideals that soak up hopes and dreams and say “YOU CAN HAVE THEM IF YOU……. work hard enough/are white/keep buying shit you don’t need/own nothing because the State owns it for your benefit………. but eventually you’ll be the perfect happiness.” They are the “other“. The concept of Heaven is very similar. The concept of Plato’s eternal realm is very similar. Abstractions that don’t actually exist in anything other than man’s mind, are used to control man. The men who create these concepts have created them for the purpose of control. Feudalism was a system of control. Capitalism is not much different. There are still Lords who suck up the majority of the wealth at the behest of the many. The U.S Constitution protects a certain class of person. The USSR protected a certain class of person. Whether or not it was designed with that specific goal in mind is debatable, but perhaps subconsciously a certain class of people always assume they are best placed to rule.

The Catholic Church was set up to spread the word of Jesus, yet ended up being perhaps one of the wealthiest institutions on the planet. In the 16th Century, instead of helping the poor that Christianity swears to do, the Catholic Church took money off of the poor, to finance St Peters. They found ridiculous ways to justify the selling of indulgences because the abstract concept they were attempting to spread, which they had inevitably corrupted, demanded obedience, even though the entire doctrine was based on conjecture, dodgy history and man made abstractions.

Catholicism created a culture of idol worship with the creation of Saints. We in the modern era have took that idol worship that the Bible strictly forbids, and our new idols are National pride, pop stars, sports stars, TV presenters, authors. They are also in the realm of “other“. Their public success is largely fatuous, worthless, and offers very little in the sense of the progress of humanity, but they’re worshipped as idols. We salute a flag that we invented, We wear the clothes that the stars wear, we recite their words, we want our bodies to look like theirs, we concentrate far too much energy on being like them, than being like ourselves. Why is that? Is that natural? Perhaps so. Humans have always created an abstraction that we place above ourselves, perhaps because we cannot cope with the notion that we as a species are the height of intelligence. And yet, we are. We created God. We created Nations. We created all other abstractions, the very same abstractions that today hold us all back and group us together into ridiculous categories.

To break away from these abstractions, and concentrate on reality, is in a sense Anarchism. Libertarianism evolves from the idea that we must break away from abstractions, and whilst I think Libertarianism goes too far to the right, I understand it’s principles. But then Anarchism itself, is dogmatic, and an abstraction……and…………… ARGGGH!!!! I don’t know how to end this blog.

Elizabeth I

March 24, 2010

Four hundred and seven years ago today, Elizabeth I of England died, and was replaced by James VI of Scotland, who became James I of England and Scotland.

I studied the early reign of Elizabeth I, her religious policies, her use of council, and her relationship with Europe but I only really started to sit up and take full notice of her reign, when I read “Elizabeth” by David Starkey. A biography of the Elizabeth from her birth, to her coming to the throne. I have since read it twice more, it is a great read and supremely recommended.

Elizabeth, in my opinion, was the greatest monarch this Country has even seen. She reigned at a time when the country had spent the past 150 years in turmoil. The disastrous period of the wars of the roses, followed by the horrendous upheaval of Henry VIII and Edward VI’s attack on Catholicism, Mary’s attacks on Protestantism meant that England was at boiling point. Elizabeth created stability and prosperity, a sense of brotherhood, that did not exist prior to her reign. This relentless panic to produce an heir, plagued the Monarchy from Henry VIII, through to Mary, and the power hungry obsessiveness of the Seymour family after Henry died, needed to come to an end. I’d recommend reading “Edward VI: The Lost King of England” by Chris Skidmore for a detailed analysis of Edward’s reign. It’s a great read. The Seymore brothers, and Thomas in particular have become my favourite characters from Tudor history, since reading that book.

As a child, Elizabeth was brilliant. She was taught Latin, French, Philosophy, History, Maths and Greek from an early age, and according to her teacher, Roger Asham (one of the most formidable scholars of the day), she was one of the best and brightest students he’d ever taught.

I think perhaps Catherine Parr, last wife of Henry, gets overlooked in her significant role as step mother to Elizabeth. Starkey points out that:

“Catherine, in short, was running a Tudor Open University course in religion at Henry’s Court. Elizabeth was certainly a receptive student. We can imagine her listening, intent, and white faced, to the lectures in the Queen’s privy chamber. In religion at least, Elizabeth was the student, and Catherine was the tutor”.

This suggests that the religious turmoil that came to an end with the religious settlement that Elizabeth ingeniously put in place during her reign, can be traced back to her education under Catherine Parr.

Elizabether seems to embody Niccolo Machiavelli’s statement that a Renaissance ruler should strive to be both loved and feared. Machiavelli saw this as a bit of a Utopia; unachievable, and so he goes on to point out that whilst one cannot be both loved and feared, one should strive to simply be feared. This position has been rather manipulated over the years.

Elizabeth, as a woman, was expected to marry. As the daughter of the King, she was expected to marry a rich noble perhaps of foreign descent, whom would then rule England, and she would take a merely ceremonial position. She refused. She wanted to rule. During her early life, she had lost her mum, two step mums and another step mum was gone. She had witnessed the 16 year old Jane Grey become the pawn in a game of power between her young brother’s protectors, and the power hungry Grey family, that resulted in Lady Jane’s beheading at only 16 years old. All because of Royal marriage. She knew how Royal women get treated. And given the pain of the previous Tudor monarchs (although, Edward was far too young to have much influence, it could be argued that his reign, was the reign of Somerset and Northumberland), it was a miracle that she managed to achieve what she did. An acceptable religious settlement in 1559 that put to rest the problems between the Catholics and Protestants who’d spent the past thirty years at war throughout Europe. Although, it may be said that it was far more Protestant than Catholic, given that Pope Pius excommunicated her for it. But still, it was an acceptable religious settlement for most of the Country, and so she was loved for it.

She established close relations with the Russians and the Ottomans, effectively attempting to explore the World further than ever before. She even considered an alliance with the Muslim world, because she, like they, believed they were both under threat from the Catholic Church at the time. She oversaw the first English expedition to Japan also. The theatre flourished, English culture had witnessed a golden age because of a Queen who seemed far less narcissistic and power hungry than her predecessors.

She became feared across the known World, after the ruthlessly powerful Philip of Spain (ex-husband of the now dead Queen Mary of England, and so brother in law of Elizabeth, and staunch Catholic) attempted again to overthrow his sister-in-law because he believed he should be the true ruler of England, and reunite the Country with Rome. Philip, and Spain, lost. We won. Howard and Drake are largely unknown as military geniuses, but in my opinion, for their defeat of the Spanish Armada, they’re the best Britain has ever seen.

“Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated.”

Here, Machiavelli describes how a feared leader, must not cross the line into a hated leader. It can be supposed that Machiavelli’s contemporary, and ruler of Florence, Giovanni de’ Medici, was hated. Supremely hated in fact. He had destroyed the Florentine Republic and the liberties upon which it stood. Giovanni become Pope Leo X in 1513, and was so hated, that an entirely new sect of Christianity (Protestantism) arose because of widespread disillusionment with the Catholic Church, on Leo’s watch. Perhaps Machiavelli was describing, subtly, the inadequacies of the Medici, in his writing. He goes on to describe how a ruler should not be cruel.

Elizabeth was neither hated nor cruel. She could so easily have been dismissed as the daughter of an adulterous mother who almost tore England apart. But she escaped that, owing to her own ingenuity in never mentioning her mother’s name in public. No doubt Elizabeth was influenced by the Protestant World she had been brought up around; if she had, she kept it to herself. Her father and her sister were cruel, and history has judged them to be tyrants. Elizabeth however, never crossed that line. She remained in power for close to fifty years, and was loved throughout. There has been no Monarch before her, or since, that has commanded that sort of respect and admiration.

Elizabeth I, who died on this day, 407 years ago, is the closest any ruler across the World, since her day, has come to being the Machiavelli Utopian ruler.

Historical healthcare

March 22, 2010

Our policy is to create a national health service in order to ensure that everybody in the country, irrespective of means, age, sex, or occupation, shall have equal opportunities to benefit from the best and most up-to-date medical and allied services available.
Winston Churchill

OH MY GOD Churchill was a communist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Or not. Actually, definitely not. Unless you’re a conservative American. If Obama had said what Churchill said, Glenn Beck’s head would have exploded live on TV.

Historic day for America. Obama’s healthcare plan passed. Which means more than 30,000,000 more Americans will be insured; insurance companies will no longer be able to oppressively discriminate on any basis, and best of all; Republican and conservative Americans hate it. They seem unable to differentiate between slightly left of centre beneficial policies, and Stalinist Communism.
Obama was absolutely correct when he subtly digged at the Republicans for their appalling use of fear tactics to attempt to win this argument. They should be ashamed of themselves. They, in my eyes, are comparable to those who opposed the Civil Rights Act in ’64.
Obama said:

“We didn’t give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things.”

Whilst the Republicans continue to complain about the evils of Socialist medical care, I thought i’d sing it’s praises.
We in the UK have a National Health Service. It is a single payer system. It is government run. It would, in short, make Glenn Beck’s face explode in rage.
According to the World Health Organisation:

  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST life expectancy (m/f):77/81
  • The US’s free market haven life expectancy(m/f): 75/80
  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 6
  • The US’s free market haven Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): 8
  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 98/61
  • The US’s free market haven Probability of dying between 15 and 60 years m/f (per 1 000 population): 137/80
  • The UK’s EVIL SOCIALIST overall World Health standing:18th
  • The US’s free market haven overall standing:36th

    In short, whilst Republicans keep complaining about how awful Socialist medicine is……… we in the UK will continue to enjoy it, whilst living longer.

    For a World superpower that basis itself on freedom, I’m not sure how they can justify being so terrible in the healthcare rankings. The US even ranks below Singapore for infant mortality. That’s appalling. But, apparently allowing more children to die than 35 other countries, is far more Constitutional (as is sending the living children to war on the basis of a lie, when they’re older), than giving them a better healthcare program safety net. In fact, half of all personal bankruptcies in the USA are believed to be partly the result of ridiculously extortionate healthcare costs.

    Republicans and the Tea Party movement is simply a movement to protect the profits of American insurance companies. To fight against a bill that prevents insurance companies from turning down insurance for patients with pre-existing conditions, and cancelling insurance when people get ill, on the ideological basis that the new bill is “big evil socialist government” is pathetic. I cannot believe insurance companies have been allowed to get away with their utterly immoral practices for so long.

    In fact, I watched Republican John McCain tell a room full of people live on Fox News that the British NHS refuses to treat patients over 75. The extent of this ridiculous lie was rendered even more ingenious given that on that very same day, my 83 year old grand mother was being treated on the NHS after having a heart attack. They saved her life. The irony of John McCain’s position is, most of my family, if we lived under the current US healthcare system, would not be able to afford healthcare, and the rich conservative and Republican anti-socialised medicine brigade would have no problem denying us care.

    To deny people the right to healthcare whilst you yourself can afford it, in my opinion, is no different to me blocking the road when an ambulance needs to get past. I’m fine and healthy. I paid taxes that went to fix that road. So fuck them!!! That’s the attitude. The “individualist” attitude plaguing the West. The Republican attitude. Today, it was defeated. My face is one of complete smugness today.

    McCain today argued that the bill promoted big government. I’d argue that is irrelevant. Our British NHS has survived for sixty years, and whilst it has it’s issues, it is better than the American system. Big government or small government is not the issue. It is the equivalent of approaching an uninsured suffering child and saying “We wont help you, because, erm, well, BIG GOVERNMENT!!!!” Perhaps an injection of big business to curb the excesses of big insurance and big business, is not such a bad thing. I fully support it.

    My only issue, is that the bill doesn’t go far enough. After eight years of Republican misery, the fact that anyone actually pays any attention to those lunatics amazes me. President Obama didn’t seem strong enough. He allowed Republicans to populate their lies and fear tactics; the same tactics they used for the war on terror. It has to stop. The Republicans are an international laughing stock. And yet, their usual cry of “SOCIALISM!!! HIGH TAXES!!! BIG GOVERNMENT!!! COMMMUUUUNIIISSSM!!!! NO STIMULUS!!!!!” against anything slightly left of Reagan, seems to generate sympathy in America. The rest of us look on in amazement. Today, that horrendous and selfish tactic lost.

    I look forward to watching the psychotic Glenn Beck tell everyone America is now Soviet Russia.

  • Support the strike

    March 21, 2010

    Teamstar, the US Union said it hadn’t ruled out banning it’s members from handling BA baggage, in a show of solidarity with the strikers. BA said that action by a secondary union was against US law. This amazes me. Why does a law like that exist? Why do companies have more rights than people? Why aren’t workers allowed to show solidarity against a corrupt regime? Afterall, Americans think it’s okay to own guns in the knowledge that they may need to overthrow a corrupt Government, so why are corrupt businesses given such protection? Why is there a bill of rights for the abstract concept of “company“? If that isn’t proof that the protection of the rights of those at the top is more important than the majority, i’m not sure what is.

    BA said it was sad to see overseas Unions support:

    “unjustified strikes against an iconic British brand”

    If all else fails, if incompetent and a bully style of management, and scandal after scandal is starting to make management look like the wolves in sheep’s clothing……….. appeal to Nationalism. It never fails in the realm of the idiots.

    The Tories, reminiscent of 1979 today announced they would fight the power of the Unions. Members of the Unite Union working for British Airways voted in favour of strike action, and are today on strike.

    Let’s get one thing straight from the start, BA is not at risk. The strikers, are not putting BA at risk. BA is the British market leader in international flights. It started to lose it’s top spot, before recession hit. The cabin crew on strike, were not responsible for that. Bad management, was responsible for that. The Tories who are now criticising Brown for being weak with the unions, are far weaker in their unwavering support for unbelievably incompetent management.

    The Union offered 60 million in cuts, with a 2 year pay freeze on it’s staff. The staff were ready to accept it. Walsh didn’t think it went far enough. To him, the only way this is over, is if the Union is totally broken, so he can bully as much as he damn well pleases. I hope he fails.

    There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that rewards incompetence and greed and punishes those who simply wish to protect their livelihood. Obviously i’m going to be incredibly bias, because just looking at BA Chief Exec. Willie Walsh’s smug face, on the left, makes me want to convert to fundamental Christianity and stone him to death.

    The Sun reading British public, owing to it’s great sense of idiocy and selfishness is largely against the strike action. Regardless of how poorly management of BA has been, and regardless of how many jobs are on the line, the public seem to hate the strikers, simply because it might put a few holidays at risk. The death of brotherhood, and the ongoing nightmare World of the narcissistic consumer.

    So why the anger at the striking cabin crew?

  • It wasn’t the Cabin crew who created the huge pension deficit. It was Willie Walsh’s management.
  • It wasn’t the Cabin crew who were fined £270,000,000 for price fixing. It was Willie Walsh’s management (this resulted in huge job losses, to pay for it.) He tried to manipulate costs. And yet, he wasn’t sacked.
  • It wasn’t the Cabin crew who fucked up over Terminal 5. It was Willie Walsh’s management.
  • It wasn’t the Cabin crew who ran the company so far into the ground, that 30,000 workers whose livelihoods depend on their wage packet, were asked to work for nothing. It was because of Willie Walsh’s management. The union actually called for better management, instead of workers working for free, surely that makes more sense?
  • The distrust of BA because of it’s dirty tricks economically, is not the Cabin crew’s fault. It was Willie Walsh’s management.
  • It wasn’t the Cabin crew who went to the Supreme Court to block industrial action. It was Willie Walsh.
    In short, the head of BA, Willie Walsh is a crook. An appalling manager. 13,500 people don’t just decide to strike because they want to ruin your holiday, or they want a bit of a break, or they’re “greedy”. They have a reason. And that reason, is still in charge of a company he damn near destroyed. The strikers don’t hate BA. The strikers want to save BA.

    Overpaid arrogant bankers and managers have screwed the entire system over, for the past thirty years. Lehman Brothers, and Goldman is testament to that. Walsh is just another one of the same breed of greedy bastards who have somehow convinced a generation that they are indispensable. They are not indispensable. They should be dispensed of as soon as possible. The Tories, quite clearly support ruthless Capitalism. Because whilst jobs and livelihoods at BA are threatened by management who bully their staff…….. BA stock price is at the highest it’s been in over six months. Which suggests that whilst staff are being threatened daily with cuts in the wages they rely on to survive, the shareholders, who quite clearly have a bit of money anyway given that they have shares in BA……… are making more money.

    If a President or Prime Minister were to run a Country as badly and with bullying tactics as Willie Walsh has ran BA, the public would be supremely outraged. When a company does it, the public don’t seem to care. The way of Capitalism. Greed and selfishness wins every time.

    What a wondrous system this is.

    David Cameron said:

    “The BA strike threatens the future of one of Britain’s greatest companies along with thousands of jobs. But will the Prime Minister come out in support of the people who cross the picket line? No – because the Unite union is bankrolling the Labour Party”

    Firstly, why are the strikers threatening BA? I don’t think they are. Why hasn’t Cameron mentioned the bad management, the scandals, the threats, the bullying? This leads me on to my second point…
    Cameron will never mention poor management and a need to curve excessive and rather fascist business tactics, because big business donated almost £5.9million to the Conservative Party last year. Big business is the Conservative Party. Anything that slightly threatens big business, is going to be called socialist, destructive, terrible for Britain.

    What Cameron means is, those like Willie Walsh should be allowed to bully their staff all they want and there should be nothing anyone can do about it.
    Let’s not forget that it is thanks to a brotherhood of workers, that those of us who complain about unions, have a minimum wage to fall back on, and a universal healthcare system to look after us when we’re ill, and better working conditions in so much as we’re not choking on deadly gases in our workplaces, or our kids being sent down mines.

    Kenneth Clarke suggested that we’re heading back to the 1970s and allowing the Unions to take over England. So, the polar opposite of the Unions taking control, is big business. As an example, i’ll use Lloyds Group.

    Lloyds today announced it has made profits of £3.5bn. They seem over joyed. The reason they were overjoyed is because recently, the took over HBOS, which had a plethora of toxic debts, which were then transfered to Lloyds, who miscalculated the risk. Lloyds shareholders decided to take over HBOS. The workers didn’t have any say, obviously, because that would be EVIL SOCIALISM!!!! So thankfully, those wondrous Capitalists were on hand to save the day………….. by having to appeal to Socialism to bail it out. The Government then took 43% of Lloyds over. The wondrous Capitalists who were going to save the day from EVIL SOCIALISM!!!! then announced they were taking on Andy Hornby as a consultant on £60,000 a month; the very same Andy Hornby who was at the top of HBOS and drove it into the ground. So whilst Lloyds needed desperately a government bail out because they’d made a huge mistake buying HBOS, they could still afford to pay an incompetent lunatic £60,000 as a consultant. A man who drove his bank into the ground, was now earning £60,000 advising another Bank how to run it’s business. But wait, those wondrous Capitalists weren’t finished saving the day yet. After making mistake after mistake, they then cut 15000 jobs. Lloyds, the largest employer in Aylesbury had effectively shut down the town by cutting 300+ jobs, because of supremely incompetent management. At what point does the Chancellor, who represents our 43% share in the business, step in and tell the management that we don’t want our money back as a Country, if it means 15000 lose their jobs. We’re not a Tory country. We don’t believe that sort of thing is perfectly acceptable.
    And these are the people who should be running the show as opposed to Unions?

    For those of you who believe the Unions have too much power, and deplore the BA strike…….. you are simply fighting in favour of protecting a system that allows mindless management thugs to control the lives of the very people who fund their luxurious lifestyles.
    The idea that they should be happy to even have a job, amazes me, and doesn’t even warrant a response.

    I fully support Unions, in all their attempts to advance workers rights and curve the oppression of selfish incompetent fatcats.

  • Why i’m not an atheist

    March 19, 2010

    I find myself constantly torn between theism and atheism for two reasons. Firstly, I do not believe in a God of organised religion. Organised religion, for me, is both unnatural (in that, it’s a man made creation) and designed purely as a method of control and to legitimise prejudice and hatred. I even doubt the existence of Jesus himself. The only evidence we have for the existence of Jeus, comes from gospels written some forty years after his supposed death, many of which have been removed from history because certain Roman Emperors didn’t like their content, or early Christians considered them a little bit too far fetched. In short, I believe organised religion to be the realm of the ignorant, teaching dogmatic acquiescence.

    However, dismissing organised religion does not necessarily mean dismissing theism on the whole. The argument for creation from cosmological point of view, is rather compelling, and cannot simply be explained away by saying “I don’t believe in a God“. This is where I think people like Professor Dawkins fall down.

    Einstein’s general theory of relativity states that time, matter and space all came into existence at the exact same moment of creation. This in essence means that before the big bang, there was no time, no space, and no matter. Nothing. This theory is backed up by the dismissal of the steady state theory, which deemed that the universe was eternal, but was overtaken by the cosmic microwave background radiation theory by Nobel prize winners Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, proving the universe is expanding, which further proves that the universe, had a beginning. Matter, space and time sprang into existence at a single moment. Stephan Hawking himself stated that the discovery of cosmic radiation left over from the big bang was “the final nail in the coffin of the steady-state theory.” From observation we can then conclude that the universe had a beginning.

    If there was nothing before the big bang, then it stands to reason that logic, nature, and reason itself also sprang into existence at the point of the big bang. The creation of something from nothing is rather illogical to human understanding. It may just be that humanity has not the capacity to comprehend such a notion, which renders any argument to the contrary depressingly futile. And so, we must conclude that something had to have kicked started everything. That “something” must have existed before existence itself had began. One cannot create something which has already started to exist. It had to have existed outside of the realm of time and space and matter, because time and space and matter had not yet been created. If it existed outside of time and space and matter, then it cannot possibly be affected by the trials of those three. It cannot decay. It cannot die. It cannot be bruised or hurt. It cannot have been created itself, because creation hasn’t yet been created, so to speak. It is above logic, and above reason, and above natural law. It is unrestricted by all the restrictions that the universe is under. Think of it like this; you make a snow globe. You put a house in the snow globe. You created the snow globe. Therefore, you cannot possibly be inside the snow globe, you aren’t restricted by the laws of the snow globe. You know that existence is not restricted to the snow globe, unlike whatever else exists in the snow globe. You cannot suddenly de-enlighten yourself and become ignorant to the “outisde World“. You can exist without the need for the snow globe. Similarly, whatever can be called the creator, exists outside of the laws of the universe, because it created the laws of the universe.
    You cannot explain the natural universe, without concluding that the supernatural had a hand in it’s creation.

    Secondly, the teleological argument is stunningly mind blowing at times. The argument from intelligent design. Professor Stephan Hawking states:

    “if the expansion rate of the universe changed by 1 part in one hundred thousand million million a second after the big bang, we wouldn’t be here.”

    Hawking goes on to say:

    “The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. … The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.”

    The universe, in other words, was pretty precise in it’s less than chaotic beginnings.
    At the moment of creation, natural law came into existence. The expansion rate of the universe, the strength of gravity, electromagnetic forces, among other natural constants are so beautifully fine tuned, that had the rate of any of those constants been 1/10000000000000th different, life could not possibly exist anywhere in the universe. The mass of a proton in comparison to an electron, is so finely tuned, if it were off by .0000001, the creation of molecular DNA would not have been possible. Gravity itself, was the perfect strength. If it were even slightly off, planets and galaxies would not have formed. Gravity brought matter together, to form rocks and planets and moons and stars. If it were all by random, it is the equivilant of me asking you to pick a single grain of sand that I myself had picked, and hidden on a beach somewhere in the World, but the catch is, there are now 100000 Worlds to search, not just one and you have to pick the exact same grain of sand that I picked. The odds are pretty much stacked against you. The history of the universe is a history of unlikely event after unlikely event, that to the best of my ability, I cannot simply just dismiss as random.

    And so, that is why I am not an Atheist.

    Islam and Christianity

    March 17, 2010

    I have wanted to write this blog for a while, but didn’t particularly know how to start it. A lot of this writing comes from the knowledge I gained reading Henry Chadwick, Karen Armstrong, and Voltaire. But I still didn’t have a beginning. Today provided me with that beginning.

    Today is St Patrick’s day. As I was wandering through Leicester city centre, through swarms of happy people with tall green hats and pints of Guinness, I happened across an Irish pub. Outside the pub were six or seven people dancing to Irish music. Pleasingly, dancing side by side, arm in arm, were two men; An old grey haired Irish man with a huge smile across his face as he swayed, dancing quite comically with a young Muslim man also with a huge smile across his bearded (a bit of a failed attempt at beard growth actually) face whilst his friend filmed the entire scenario on his mobile phone. I was struck by the apparent lack of culture barrier between the two. They were just two men, enjoying themselves.

    Meanwhile, in Sheffield, the “English Defence League” plan a march, against Islam. I wondered if this seemingly polarised contrast of values has always existed between the west and Islam? I’d argue that it has. I’d argue that the irrational fear that the contemporary western World seems to have of anything Islamic has been a linear progression since around 900ad.

    During the 10th Century, in Al Andalus (Muslim controlled Spain), Islam was becoming amazingly ahead of it’s time. Cordova especially. Under Muslim control, Christians, Jews and Muslims were allowed to live side by side in peace, as long as respect was shown for each other. The Christians and Muslims shared poetry, literature, and philosophy. It was a golden age for the history of Spain. Typical Christian States at this time, were not allowing such integration to exist, because Jews and Muslims were considered heretics, who should be killed rather than accepted.

    A Spanish Christian outside of Cordova, whom would undoubtedly be a member of the EDL today, once spoke out against this arrangement, arguing that Cordovan Christians had become corrupted by Islam. Paul Alvaro stated:

    The Christians love to read the poems and the romances of the Arabs. Not to refute them, but to form an elegant Arabic. Alas! All young Christians read and study with enthusiasm the Arab books”

    This was an attack on the Christians of Cordova. Christian layman reacted viciously, and started to burn Islamic books and writings in the centre of Cordova. One man in particular, named Perfectus, began to denounce Muhammad publicly. As this began, the Muslim supreme judge known as the Qadi did not pass the death sentence (to insult Christianity, in Christian lands, would have almost certainly resulted in a rather nasty death penalty) because he considered the Christian to have been provoked by both the writings of people like Alvaro, and angry Muslims, so he released Perfectus. But, Perfectus continued attacking the name of Mohammad. And so, without any other option, given the social and historical context of the time, Perfectus was executed by the order of the Qadi under the control of Abd ar-Rahman II. This martyrdom started a fresh wave of anti-Islamic sentiment. Known as the “Cordova Martyrs“, they began to publicly condemn Muslims for being heretics, and did not cease until they were executed. The Muslim court was reluctant to execute people for two reasons. Firstly, they believed it to be wrong to execute people for believing something different. Heresy did not exist for Islam. Disrespect for the Prophet did exist. But heresy, was not a concept Islam understood. Islam expanded at a time of religious plurality in the near East, and so they were used to different beliefs, and did not execute people on that basis. Secondly, they did not want to create a cult surrounding these martyrs. The martyrs were quickly being recognised as soldiers of Christianity. Islam did not provoke nor want a religious war. Christian bishops in Cordova, did not want a religious war. In fact, many Christian bishops and scholars denounced the martyrs as simply out to cause trouble where it was not needed. Slowly, successive Popes started to ban anything slightly Islamic. Koran’s were banned. As was recitation from memory of verses. In contrast, Islamic nations allowed Christian bibles, and Christian debates and discussions, even propaganda from Christians, providing it did not insult Muhammad. Islam, was generations ahead of Christianity both morally and spiritually.

    We can then follow that insecurity, and irrational attacking of Islam or anything that was slightly different, almost directly to Pope Urban II and his attacks on Jerusalem. Perhaps this wasn’t necessarily an all out attack against Islam, but more Papal imperialism. Spreading the power of the West. Using Muhammad and the “heretics” as a predicate for war. As if Urban II was protecting Christianity rather than extending his own power, dominance and wealth. The Jews across the Rhine Valley were victims of Pope Urban attempting to kill off any non-Christians across the known World. Islam and Judaism have a lot more in common then they have differences.

    For the next couple of centuries, false legends were propogated across Europe surrounding Islam and their Prophet. He was the anti-christ, a child molester (which is rich, coming from Catholicism), out to destroy Christianity, Satan himself.

    As the reformation swept through Europe in the 15th and 16th Centuries, it became apparent that Christian ignorance would not go away. Catholics attacked Islam by linking it to Protestantism. They were a breakaway sect of Christianity that denied the Pope’s authority. Similarly, Protestants began attacking Islam by linking it to Catholicism. They worshiped false idols and didn’t believe in faith alone. Even Luther, the hero of the reformation wrote how he considered Europe at risk from being engulfed by Islam; and so the continued irrational fear spread miserably for another century. By 16th Century, the modern historian Norman Daniel points out that Islam was now used as a dirty word. The illiterate European population had no idea what Islam was; had never read the Koran; had never even spoken to a Muslim, but they had all decided through relentless Catholic and Protestant propaganda that Islam was never to be tolerated, purely because Islam held that Jesus was not the chosen Prophet of God.

    In fact, it was not until Voltaire wrote his account of Muhammad, as being a great philosopher and Islam as being far more progressive than Christianity, that anything positive from the West was being written about Islam. Francois Rene de Chateaubriand, the French imperialist writer stated that:

    Christianity is the most favourable to freedom.”

    And that Islamic nations were:

    A Family without a father

    The Western imperialist powers, were apparently that “father“.
    And then rose the British Empire.
    The “us VS them” mentality continued. The Empire marched into Muslim lands and proclaimed that those who lived their, were barbarians who needed the British Empire to improve their lives. Algiers, Aden, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya; all came under imperialist power, and we were horrendously evil in our dealings with our new colonies.

    The writer Boaudricourt of France at the time, wrote what he had known of the British and French expeditions to Africa and our treatment of Islam:

    “About 18,000 trees had been burnt; Women, children and old men had been killed. The unfortunate women particularly excited cupidity by wearing silver ear rings, leg rings, and arm rings. These rings have no catch like French bracelets. To get them off, our soldiers used to cut off their limbs and leave them alive in a mutilated condition”

    And we had the nerve to refer to Islam as barbaric?

    The fear and violence continues right up until today. George Bush in 2004, run his re-election campaigned claiming to have been sent by God, and that America shouldn’t change commander-in-chief during a war. Christian and Western arrogance propagating fear all over again.
    After 9/11, Muslims were viewed with unprecedented fear. As if they were all terrorists who simply “hated our freedom”. The same propaganda that was being used 1000 years ago, was being used again. Screening young muslim men at airports, always telling us that our terrorist threat level was at critical. And yet, the majority of terrorist attacks on U.S soil over the past twenty-years, has been by Christian fanatics. Burnt and bombed abortion clinics, the KKK, the murders of abortion doctors, the Olympic bombing in 1996; all Christian extremists. Why aren’t Christians given the same, if not more level of suspicion given their rather disgraceful past?

    It was inevitably that eventually a generation of disenfranchised Islamic lunatics with delusions of hatred and an irrational bloodlust for Americans and the West was going to arise. When one mad man kills a few people, that’s a psychological issue. When a hundreds of men become radicalised, there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. You cannot simply blame Islam for “hating our freedom”. It simply isn’t true. It’s an ignorant, racist concoction used to feed our arrogance because the West, and Christianity, has always had this delusional sense of superiority.

    Not today. Today, the Irish man and the Muslim man proved that multiculturalism and tolerance work. The linear progression from the Cordova Martyrs, to the English Defence League and the War on Terror, has not prevailed. It is clear that the anti-Islamic prejudice is slowly dying out, on a scale never before seen. This is a fantastic thing.

    Knowing the numinous

    March 3, 2010

    The Latin word “Numen” presents the idea that there is an ineffable essence to the way of the World that we as humans cannot possibly understand. As if reality has a will of it’s own; that particular will, is what the Ancients referred to as “Numen“.

    In 1917 Rudolf Otto wrote his best selling Theology book “The Idea of the Holy“, in which he wrote that the feeling of the numinous (the English word derived from “numen“) is a human perception that is “non-rational, non-sensory experience or feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self“. I’d argue, that the very nature of the concept of the numinous, is what drives human beings to invent ideas like God, to attempt in as simple way as possible, a sort of Ockham’s razor, the reason for the feeling of the numinous. The World was far easier to understand, when human perceptions and qualities were given to it. And so nature, became personified.

    I’d point to the God’s of Sumeria and Ancient Mesopotamia firstly, as reasonable evidence to prove this point. The very first Sumerians in many ways, were far more intelligent and understanding of the World in their religious ideals, than we are today. They did not worship Gods as we do today, at first. They did not believe that a God with human-like attributes, could transcend time, answer prayer, give law, and punish people for relatively meaningless “sins“. They simply gave important aspects of life, a name and a degree of respect above that accorded to each other. They were not searching for a literal understanding of universal truth, they were fully aware that their myths and legends were man made. The myths of Sumeria were a reflection of the culture and sense of wonderment of the time. Much in the same way as music and art can be viewed as a reflection of a person today. God’s were used and changed to suit the culture throughout Mesopotamia, the culture was not changed to suit the God’s. It was not until the rise of the civilisation of Akkad, with whom the Sumerians mixed culturally for years, along with other tribes around Mesopotamia, that their myths started to develop far more elaborately as they intertwined.

    For example, Enlil is the Sumerian god of air. The Sumerian’s didn’t believe that an actual entity controlled the air, or was in some way responsible for the air. Enlil was just a myth. The worship of Enlil was simply the worship of the mystery of air. The Sumerian’s understood myth as a human created story with the intention of highlighting the importance of it’s subject, in this case, air. The myth surrounded the idea that Enlil was the God that gave the power to Kings to govern. If the King wasn’t right for the area, then he’d die, he couldn’t breath the air any longer. The numinous feeling was that the Sumerians knew that they were not in control of who lived, who died, and who was born to govern, and so the power of “control” in the human sense, was given to nature itself, and considering they ascribed the human notion of “power” and “control” to nature, they went the next logical step, and personified nature by giving air a human body and name, in a myth. Enlil was not viewed by Sumerian’s as a literal explanation for the purpose of air, merely a creative myth to help highlight the importance of air.

    There are Ancient Mesopotamian myths surrounding the flood of around 2900bc. The earliest sources seem to come from around 1700bc, in which the Gods decide to destroy mankind, and ask Ziusudra to build a boat. The rest of the passage which is written on an ancient tablet, has been lost to history. Needless to say, Ziusudra is the hero of the flood story. The story itself, differs in places from that of the Bible story of Noah and the flood. For example, the Sumerian legend end with the boat floating up the Euphrates river, as opposed to on top of a mountain. The similarities, are striking. The legend of Gilgamesh, in one passage, reads “The gods smelled the sweet savor“, in the Bible, a passage pertaining to the flood story, reads “And the Lord smelled the sweet savor…“. The story itself, was never supposed to be taken literally. Christianity, over the centuries has dumbed down, and decided certain passages should be taken literally. Though, i’m pretty certain that the Ancient Jews never actually believed that Noah died at the age of 950.

    Somewhere along the line, the worship and mythical understanding of polytheism of Mesopotamia, evolved into the monotheism of the Abrahamic traditions. The Bible uses Noah as it’s hero, sent by God to save two of every plant and animal. Similar stories came out of Sumeria long before the Torah had been collated. The stories coming out of Mesopotamia did not exist to literally suggest that a man happened to build a ship big enough to hold two of every species on the planet. The stories existed to show how nature worked, and explain it in the only way they knew how; by personifying nature into a myth. We do not understand that process, because we are no longer surrounded by mystery.

    The Ancient myths, were not explanations, they were just simply myths, and that’s how they were viewed. This would lead us to suggest that the personification of nature was the primary method used to invent Gods. The Gods that came from that, did not concern themselves with the reason and method of creation. Or a transient nature of God – the ability of punish sinners, make laws, listen to prayers and perform miracles were far removed from the ancestors to our present God of the Abrahamic traditions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). It would mean then, that perhaps those who first worshiped a deity did so not for any paranoid need of salvation or acceptance, but merely as a simple explanation in a primitively unscientific age. It would mean that salvation, the link between God and Laws, prayer, and miracles are merely human add ons to an idea that preceded it all.

    In an age in which we no longer need a large number of Gods to explain that which science has already explained, I wonder how long it is before we do not need the God of the Abrahamic traditions. I will simply continue my agnostic tendencies. For me, there could be ten gods, one hundred gods, one god, or absolutely no god. We as humans, limited to our senses, and our naive understanding of the Universe, can never truly know for certain. I would like to see the end of the intolerance and pure stupidity lodged deep into the genes of Organised Religion, but it would be a shame to think that science could answer every question put to it. Do we not want a sense of wonder any more? I cannot imagine how my ancestors must have felt to have looked out at a rainbow, and not understood what it was, to have no concept of the science behind a rainbow, is somehow beautiful.

    Perhaps the fact that a large section of humanity still believe in a God, suggests that to an extent, we are actually still surrounded by mystery and wonder and numen.

    We have exiled beauty….

    March 2, 2010

    “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

    A stunningly imaginative and beautiful choice of words, straight from Ecclesiastes. Language that if written today, would become the wasteful mutterings of the unimaginative.
    George Orwell took the very same passage from Ecclesiastes, and to prove the point that i’m trying to make, he translated it into Modern English….
    “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

    Orwell was Left wing. He was Socialist (although, not in the practical sense, he was a scientific Socialist). He believed, and stated on many occasions in essays, that it is the job of the Left, to question society, to not allow corruption and lies to become common place. That real intellectualism is a product of the Left, because to be “Left” you have to be dissastisfied with the current “systems” and offer change, you have to think, you have to be Utopian and not settle for the notion that reality is unchangeable. Where as the Right, or “Conservativism” is just the opposite, and is what it states, Conservative, no reason to question, no reason to disbelieve what you’re being told. Orwell, was in short, great.

    He goes on to state that the modern use of the English language is similar to snow, in that it covers the truth, it blurs the outlines, and so is perfect for political and business talk.
    There are two problems I see with this modern use of language.
    1) It’s lazy. The quote from Ecclesiastes is a beautiful string of words. The use of metaphorical speech together with ease of flow, is incredible. It’s beautifully thought out and expressed. The point it makes it clear and it makes you want to read it over. The second, and recreated quote, as proven by Orwell, merely opens a book on popular phrases, and shoves them together. For example “element of the unpredictable” and “taken into account“. Simple phrases, we’ve all heard a million times before. Nothing new or provocative in the slightest. And that is exactly the point Orwell was making.

    The free market does not allow for such wonders of creativity. Books like Jordan’s autobiography top the charts every year, spilling the beans on her lugubriously uninteresting life. Because as a population is working longer hours, for less pay; the only leisure time we have, we spend on our Xbox’s or reading easy to follow but disastrous excuses for “literature”. It’s easy. We have no time for beauty. Beauty requires thought. Our society doesn’t like thought. It likes blind acquiescence. The plethora of literature that passes by unnoticed, is unnerving. And so where is the incentive to write and to contemplate the beauty of the imagery one can create using words that haven’t already been seen a million times before, why would they want to? Evidently, it is 100 times easier to pick commonly abused phrases out and weld them together. Phrases like “leave no stone unturned” that, when first uttered, were almost ingenius, but using them over and over, is laziness of it’s worse kind. Especially in a Nation growing in it’s sense of Nationalism, it would make sense to utilise the language of the Nation we so candidly defend, in the best way possible, rather than relying on pre-spoken phrases. You’re no longer a citizen of England, you’re a Robot of England. Your voice works, but your brain is disengaged. We could be a Nation of Thomas More, Shakespeare, Hemmingway, Byron. Instead, we’re men in suits rushing to get on the Circle and District line, desperately clinging onto the hope that we wont be late into the Office for the unfathomably boring Powerpoint Presentation the boss is putting on later.

    A tirade of idioms like “Take no prisoners” which seemingly posess no determinable meaning whatsoever, suddenly become common place. Because, we’re lazy with language. Language has been a artform of pure beauty for centuries. Existentialist Philosopher Albert Camus notes “We have exiled beauty; the Greeks took up arms for her” before pointing out quite rightly that: “We are ashamed of beauty. Our wretched tragedies have a smell of the office clinging to them, and the blood that trickles from them is the color of printer’s ink.” He’s fantastically right.

    2) Political talk manipulates modern language, in order to seem acceptable. When the Chinese robbed hundreds of their homes, in order to build the Olympic Villiage, it wasn’t described as theft, or robbery, it was described as “transfer of population”. Suddenly, theft is almost respectable. No one questioned it. If they’d have said “We’ve just evicted people from their homes, they had no choice, they now have nowhere to live, because, well, WE WANT MEDALS!!!!“, there’d have been outcry and public dismay.

    It allows phrases like “freedom” to appear. They never define what they mean by Freedom, similarly, they never define what they mean by Democracy, and yet “transfer of population” is fine when it’s in the pursuit of “freedom” and “democracy“. Freedom, when stripped bare (arrgggh, i did it, a useless common metaphor) , means the freedom to gain unimaginable wealth at the expense of the labour of others.
    Perhaps I’m not clear enough. An old couple, not so long ago, died together in their homes during the winter, as a direct result of fuel poverty. Not too long ago, E-On Chief executive was caught saying “Rising fuel costs, means more money for us hahahahaha“. Is that what Politicians mean when they keep repeating “freedom“? Why cloak greed behind a tirade of disingenuous language?
    Orwell calls Political Speech “The defence of the indefensible.” He’s right. Political language has to be vague, in order to advance the interests of what Chomsky calls the “two factions of the business party“; be it Democrat or Republicans, Labour or Conservative.

    Office talk, similar to political language; people in suits, using deeply clouded language to cover up their true meaning, is quite morbidly institutionalised now. It has embedded itself into the very economic core of society and so is not going to simply float away. You will often hear “We have a strong customer focus” instead of “we’re manipulating your thoughts, for profit“. You’ll hear “Our vision” means “our commitment to greed, is so strong, we’ll even right this clever web of words on business cards“. “Go the extra mile on this one“…. means… “from today, you have no social life, no family, no friends, you’re now utterly dedicated to making me money, I own you, bitch.

    The business world has a list. They have four categories, and they pick words from those categories, to make a meaningless bundle of bollocks. You can do this too, i’ll give you all the tools you need. One word from each category, and you are now, a businessman…
    Enthusiastically, Completely, Continually, Dramatically, Pro – actively, Assertively, seamlessly.
    Build, Enhance, Maintain, Supply, Restore, Create, Utilize, Promote.
    World-Class, Multimedia based, Long Term, High Impact, Diverse, Competitive, Cutting Edge, Market-driven, High standards in.
    Data, Resources, Leadership Skills, Infrastructures, Materials, Solutions, Benefits for all, Technology.
    There you go, congratulations, you’re now a businessman.
    If I owned my own Corporation, i’d go with “Dramatically utilise high impact infrastructures.” It’s meaningless, it’s the language of the idiot, but apparently, it means i’m “professional” so it must be right.
    The only way to combat such lack of imagination, such laziness is to think. Think about what you’re saying. Yes, in a way, the English language is forever changing. But the English language is also a tool for the individual to utilise, not to simply adhere to whatever the rest of society is doing. Even our Politicians of days past have been masters of language. Elizabeth I once proclaimed “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king”. Our politicians, are simply celebrities with buzz words and spun PR nonsense. Society is growing ever more pretentious with how it uses language.

    “Here may we reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell. Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven. “

    It isn’t a case of using the correct grammar. It’s a case of refraining from pulling as many Latin inspired words out of a “How to sound intelligent” book as possible, and utilising the power and the beauty of the English language and it’s capabilities. That’s where the true genius lies. As shown in the quote above, taken from Paradise Lost, by Milton. Two simple sentences, exploding with power, beauty and genius.

    You do not need to use archaic lexis in order to combat modern English language laze, you just need to open your mind to the shear weight of words that can be used along side other words to create something as beautiful as…
    “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

    The Reagan Legacy

    March 2, 2010

    Ronald Reagan, in my estimation, was a nightmare. He is adored as a grandfather like figure who transformed America, whilst his equally as evil minion, Thatcher “transformed” Britain. A Corporate bitch at best, a war criminal for what he did with Guatemala at worst. Reagan once commented on Guatemala:
    “President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. … I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”
    President Rios Montt, staunch anticommunist, and funded almost entirely by the Reagan administration, was according to a Roman Catholic investigation, guilty of commanding widespread torture, rape, political murders and genocide against the indigenous population if they happened to show left wing sympathies.
    Greg Grandin, a reputable historian found that:
    “In Nicaragua, the U.S.-backed Contras decapitated, castrated, and otherwise mutilated civilians and foreign aid workers. Some earned a reputation for using spoons to gorge their victims eye’s out. In one raid, Contras cut the breasts of a civilian defender to pieces and ripped the flesh off the bones of another.”
    Quite ironically, one of America’s most wanted terrorists, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was funded almost exclusively by the Reagan administration, whilst also given full immunity for cocaine trafficking, people trafficking and other horrific offences, purely because he didn’t really like the Soviets either.

    Whilst Reagan was quite happily knowingly funding rape, death, and genocide over in Latin America; back in America he was launching an all out assault on organised labour. His Chief of Staff (ex-chairman of Merrill Lynch, and vice chairman of the New York Stock Exchange) Donald Regan helped build policy around this new Neoliberalist ideal. In 1981, air traffic controllers went on strike to demand better working conditions. 12,000 in all. When 12,000 people go on strike, ones instant reaction is that perhaps management isn’t all that great. 12,000 people are not holding the industry to ransom; the management is holding the people to ransom. Reagan didn’t see it that way. He had them all fired. As a result, management could now just replace striking workers, meaning workers didn’t dare speak out against poor working conditions. Which meant that management could do whatever the fuck they wanted. The median real wage did not grow, during the entire 1980s. But, the gap between rich and poor more than doubled, and the homeless rate was at the highest in decades. As a result of his tax cuts for the rich, the deficit reached record highs. After forcing a recession on the American public, he then managed to cut Federal low income household funds, by 84%.

    What about the middle class? According to research undertaken by Wallace Peterson, author of “The Macroeconomic legacy of Reaganomics“, The middle class share of the economy in 1980 was 61.7%. In 1985, that had shrunk to 58.2%. Similarly, the poverty rate under President Carter reached a peak of 12.1% before falling to 11.9% by the end of his term in Office. Under Reagan, between 1981-1986, the poverty rate shot up to 14.7%. Unemployment under Carter started falling and finished at 7.5% by the end of his term. Between 1981-1986, under Reagan, unemployment shot up to 8.1%.
    Under Obama, the unemployment rate has dropped from 10% to 9.7%, whilst U.S. Department of Commerce states that 4th quarter GDP growth went from 5.7% to 5.9%, the best rate of growth in seven years. Obama doesn’t have Fox News on his side, Reagan still does. That’s the difference.

    What Reagan essentially did, with his ideal of cutting the size of government and slashing aid to those who needed it most, was to bankroll the rich, spit on the poor, create a new class of homeless people, and use this new smaller government (which in fact, had more federal employees than any government before it) to undertake the task of destroying any left wing opposition in Latin America. That was the American Government’s new mission. Constitutional? Apparently so, if you ask Republican America.

    Economist Mark Weisbrot is quoted as stating that Reagan’s economic policies were “mostly a failure”. Free-market-failure-denial-sufferers, will never accept that Reagan was an utter failure. Weisbrot goes on to point out that: “The median wage was flat, and there was a massive redistribution of income, with wealth going to the top one or two percent of the population

    Was he the most popular President of the past century as some conservatives would have us believe? No. He never reached the 90% approval rating that even George W Bush and his father achieved, and Bill Clinton managed roughly the same rating during his two terms, surpassing Reagan in the second half of each of their terms.

    The hysteria about the debt and stimulus across the U.S, is crippling the recovery. America needs more stimulus. As does Britain. It didn’t go far enough. What the World doesn’t need, is another Reagan or Thatcher propagating the rumour that neoliberalism is the only way out of recession, because for millions upon millions of people, it certainly isn’t. During a recession of such huge proportions, a lack of easily affordable healthcare (a universal system), lack of a safety net, and lack of foreclosure federal help, means the majority is far more at risk from financial ruin and psychological depression. One of the many reasons i’ll never vote Conservative.

    Reagan’s legacy was one of homelessness, selfishness, arrogance, lack of compassion or empathy, hate, Corporate greed, death, and misery. All in the name of an economic policy disastrously known as “trickle down”. History will remember both him and Thatcher as little beacons of horror and misery. That’s all.

    Obama now needs to man up, recognise that he’s President, recognise that the Democrats control Congress, and make sure the Republicans – as well as being a laughing stock for the entire World – know that they are largely irrelevant now.